Beetroot juice benefits have been a hot topic for professional athletes for a long time. Lately, even regular people have started to use beetroot juice to enhance their fitness and bedroom performance. Which is probably why I get a lot of questions regarding beetroot juice benefits. Here are the most common questions and answers that people ask about beetroot.
What are research backed beetroot juice benefits?
Beetroot consumption is linked to many health benefits. For example, you might have heard that beetroot lowers inflammation and reduce the risk of certain cancers. However, most of these claims don’t have multiple human trial evidence behind them.
Beetroot has also benefits which are backed by a well-designed repeated multiple placebo-controlled human studies. Here are the scientifically proven benefits of beetroot.
Drinking beetroot juice improves your exercise performance
Beetroot juice benefits for sport and exercise performance have been proven in a numerous studies. These benefits might at least partly come from beetroots high nitrate content which raises nitric oxide levels (Nitric oxide opens up the blood vessel boosting oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles).
Lately, there has been a lot of studies on beetroot’s ability to affect sports performance. Here is just a few of them.
New beetroot study with strength athletes:
Study investigated how nitrate rich beetroot drink affects strength performance using bench press exercise until failure. Beetroot group showed greatly improved performance and beetroot group actually could do about 20% more in reps than the placebo group.
“This study demonstrates that nitrate supplementation has the potential to improve resistance training performance and work output compared with a placebo.” – study.
Effects of whole beetroot consumption on exercise performance:
Consumption of nitrate-rich, whole beetroot improves running performance in healthy adults. Because whole vegetables have been shown to have health benefits, whereas nitrates from other sources may have detrimental health effects, it would be prudent for individuals seeking performance benefits to obtain nitrates from whole vegetables, such as beetroot. – Study
Beetroot study with male team-sport players:
“BR might be ergogenic during repeated bouts of short-duration maximal-intensity exercise interspersed with short recovery periods, but not necessarily during longer duration intervals or when a longer recovery duration is applied. These findings suggest that BR might have implications for performance enhancement during some types of intermittent exercise.” – Source
Study where beetroot juice improved cycling time trial performance concluded:
“These results suggest that acute dietary nitrate supplementation with 0.5 L of BR improves cycling economy, as demonstrated by a higher PO for the same VO2 and enhances both 4- and 16.1-km cycling TT performance.” – Study
Effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on athletes:
“We conclude that dietary nitrate supplementation, in an amount achievable through a diet rich in vegetables, results in a lower oxygen demand during submaximal work. This highly surprising effect occurred without an accompanying increase in lactate concentration, indicating that the energy production had become more efficient.” – Study
Beetroot juice lowers blood pressure
It’s estimated that about 75 million people have high blood pressure in the U.S. alone (1). This is really concerning as we know that high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Also deaths caused by high blood pressure are on the awful rise (2).
Does beetroot juice lower blood pressure? According to these studies, there is a lot of evidence that consumption of beetroot juice lowers blood pressure.
This study noted 4–5 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure after drinking 500 grams of beetroot juice.
“In conclusion, it was demonstrated here that in free-living people consuming an unrestricted diet and a single dose of 500 g of beetroot and apple juice, a trend to lower blood pressure by 4–5 mmHg at 6-h was observed (significant only in men after adjustment for baseline variation). A reduction in SBP in the magnitude of 5 mmHg has been correlated to a cardiovascular mortality reduction of approximately 10% at the population level. ” – Study
Another study show that 500 ml of beetroot juice lowers blood pressure
“In healthy volunteers, approximately 3 hours after ingestion of a dietary nitrate load (beetroot juice 500 mL), BP was substantially reduced (Delta(max) -10.4/8 mm Hg); an effect that correlated with peak increases in plasma nitrite concentration.” – Study
This study noted that beetroot juice and even bread containing beetroot lower blood pressure.
“BJ consumption significantly, and in a near dose-dependent manner, lowered systolic BP (SBP, P < 0·01) and diastolic BP (DBP, P < 0·001) over a period of 24 h, compared with water control. Furthermore, bread products enriched with 100 g red or white beetroot lowered SBP and DBP over a period of 24 h (red beetroot-enriched bread, P <0·05), with no statistical differences between the varieties." - Study
Beetroot systematic review and meta-analysis concluded:
“Our results showed a significant decline in systolic BP after short-term inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation, which may potentially have important implications for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on BP estimated that a systolic BP reduction of at least 5 mm Hg (as observed here) could decrease the risk of mortality due to stroke by 14% and mortality from cardiovascular diseases by 9% (48).” – Source
More studies on beetroot and blood pressure:
This study examined effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure. Beetroot blood pressure lowering effect seems to work better in men, as this study noted.
Other possible beetroot juice benefits
Juicing beetroot is one of the easiest ways to consume inorganic nitrate, which gets partly converted to nitric oxide after consumption. Nitric oxide has many beneficial health effects, such improved blood flow, muscle contraction, reducing blood pressure etc. Nitric oxide is also one the reason why beetroot juice improves erection and gives that pumped veins look (check out long lasting erection guide for more veinier penis).
Beetroot also contain other health beneficial components like betaine.
Betaine – Beetroot is high on betaine which may have some positive health benefits. For example supplementing betaine might improve exercise performance (1, 2, 3).
Beetroot is said to lower inflammation and betaine might be one reason for it. According to these studies betaine might lower homocysteine levels 4, 5, 6.
There has been a lot discussion about beetroot juice and liver detox. These theories might be at least partially true, as in some studies betaine is shown to improve liver enzymes (7, 8, 9).
Beetroot cancer – Beetroot seems to be very popular alternative medicine for cancer (1). Lately researchers have examined how beetroot and its components affects to different cancer cells and some anti-cancer properties have been found (2, 3, 4, 5). Please note that studies are still on the early stages and there are currently no human study showing that beetroot would help with any cancer.
Personal benefits experienced with a beetroot juicing
– Harder erections + more occasional spontaneous erections.
– Slightly more strength in the gym.
– Reduced fatigue when doing weight HIIT training.
– Bigger pump in the gym.
– “Veins popped out” look.
Does beetroot work same way as Viagra?
Many people describe beetroot juice as effective as Viagra. Does it work the same way? Here is the answer:
Sildenafil (Viagra) works by hindering an enzyme called PDE-5, which inhibit cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Now after this enzyme (PDE-5) is inhibited, nitric oxide (NO) can do its job better leading in increased levels of cGMP in the penis. Basically higher levels of cGMP increase vasodilation in the penis, allowing blood to flow in better and helping to get an erection.
From erection perception, beetroot works by raising your nitric oxide (NO) levels. Higher NO levels lead to increased cGMP levels which relax smooth muscle tissues in the penis increasing blood flow and causing an erection.
Viagra works by lowering enzyme called PDE-5 (which prevent raise of cGMP levels) leading to increased cGMP levels. Beetroot works by raising your nitric oxide levels which also leads to increased cGMP levels in a penis.
So in short, beetroot does not work the same way as Viagra, but the end result might be similar.
Don’t make this mistake with beetroot juice
When you drink beetroot juice, nitrate (NO3) has contact with your saliva bacteria it’s partly converted to nitrite (NO2). These nitrites can be converted to nitric oxide (NO) by various pathways.
However, most people don’t know that if you use antiseptic mouthwash or antibacterial toothpaste before drinking beetroot juice, it will greatly reduce nitrate to nitrite conversion and might eliminate the benefits of beetroot juice.
Here are studies about the subject:
“The ingestion of beet juice was coincident with a dramatic increase in plasma levels of nitrate and nitrite. The study further showed that bacterial mediated conversion of nitrate to nitrite on the tongue could significantly increase nitrite in the plasma leading to these cardiovascular effects, which were abated when microbes were eliminated by spitting.” – Mother Was Right: Eat Your Vegetables and Do Not Spit!
“Rinsing the mouth with the antibacterial mouthwash prior to the nitrate load had no effect on nitrate accumulation in saliva or plasma but abolished its conversion to nitrite in saliva and markedly attenuated the rise in plasma nitrite. We conclude that the acute increase in plasma nitrite seen after a nitrate load is critically dependent on nitrate reduction in the oral cavity by commensal bacteria. The removal of these bacteria with an antibacterial mouthwash will very likely attenuate the NO-dependent biological effects of dietary nitrate.” – Study
Indeed, interruption of this process by asking volunteers to spit out all their saliva for 3 h immediately following beetroot juice ingestion completely blocked the rise in plasma nitrite and the reduction BP.” – Source
Remember: do not use antiseptic mouthwash or antibacterial toothpaste 3 hours before or after drinking beetroot juice.
Beetroot juice how much and how long before exercise
How much beetroot juice you should drink and when?
In this study it was seen that more beetroot juice you drink, the more plasma nitrite concentration rises in your blood. Peak results were obtained around after 2 hours of ingestion with the exception of highest dose, which peaked at 4-hour mark. The positive effect of beetroot juice last around 12 hours after ingestion, but the best time to drink it seems to be around two hours before the activity.
Generally beneficially dosage seems to start at 140ml of beetroot juice, but it might not increase much exercise performance (1). 500ml of beetroot juice seems to be most effective dosage for raising exercise performance. Also, most studies note that 500ml of beetroot juice was well tolerated and no adverse effects were seen.
So I would start at lower dosages and see how your body react to it. After that adjust your dosage according to your experience to up to 500ml / day.
Generally, 100 grams of beetroots provide 50-70ml juice with a masticinating juicer, but it also depends on how fresh are the beets you are using.
Dosing beetroot juice summary:
– Maximum plasma nitrite levels 2-3 hours after ingestion.
– Start at lower doses 150ml and up your dosage to 500ml if your stomach can handle it.
Is beetroot juice safe
Are nitrates in beetroot dangerous?
Nitrites or nitrates are not dangerous by themself. However, its common theory that added nitrites (such as sodium nitrite) in a meat products can turn to harmful nitrosamine compounds (NOCs), which might cause cancer and health issues, according to studies (1, 2). This nitrosamine formation occur mainly when nitrites are exposed to a high heat with amino acids, for example pan or deep-frying.
This nitrosation reaction is prevented by vitamin C (3) and human stomach actually secrete ascorbic acid to prevent this nitrosamine formation occur in the stomach.
For example, in theory frying bacon (which are usually high in added sodium nitrite) at high temperature can form nitrosamines as there are amino acids and high heat and little vitamin C.
Nitrosamines are not formed from vegetables as they are usually high in antioxidants like vitamin C which prevents forming of nitrosamines. And people don’t usually fry vegetables at high heat (even they do there is always some vitamin C to prevent forming of nitrosamine).
To sum it up: nitrites can turn to harmful nitrosamine if the conditions for formation is met. However, it will not happen with a beetroot juice, as people are less likely to deep fry their beetroot juice at high temperatures. And even they do, they would probably need to add some amino acids and remove antioxidants for the formation to happen.
Anyway, the science is very clear: nitrite and nitrate intake is not harmful and there is no reason to fear them. If nitrates were harmful, we should not eat most of the vegetables or even swallow our saliva which is very high in nitrate. And we know its complete opposite, vegetable intake is linked to health benefits.
If you are worried about this, you can always add some vitamin C to your beetroot juice to prevent nitrosamine formation.
Side effects of beetroot juice
A most common side effects of beetroot juice consumption are:
– Beeturia, reddish urine and stools. (this is harmless)
– Stomach upset if you start with too high dose.
Beetroot and anticoagulants
Beetroot juice should not influence INR levels according to this article, but of course consult your doctor before you start to using beetroot juice.
If have already too low blood pressure, ingesting beetroot juice can lead to hypotension (one documented case).
Which is the best juicer for beetroot
I get a lot question about which is the good juicer for beetroot. Answer: For a beetroot juicing alone it really doesn’t matter which kinda juicer you choose. Both centrifugal and masticating juicer can do beetroot easily.
Generally speaking, you might want to choose masticating juicer if you are planning to juice green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, mustard greens, collards. As masticating juicer produce way more juice from green leafy vegetables compared to centrifugal juicers. Also if you planning to prepare juice for many days at once, it’s wise to choose masticating juicer as there are less oxidation so the juices shelf life is a longer. For negative point of view, a masticating juicer is a more costly investment that centrifugal juicer. But if you planning to juice more than couple times it will better choice in almost every area. I am using this masticating juicer and I am really happy with it.
Benefits of centrifugal juicers are usually cheaper price and juicing process is little faster. However, there will be more oxidation with the high-speed centrifugal juicers, so juices get rancid faster. If you can’t afford masticating juicer, a general “best buy” centrifugal juicer is also good investment for starters.
Could you get nitrates from other vegetables also? Yes, there are many vegetables which are high in nitrates for example spinach, lettuce, carrots, parsley, cabbage, celery.
For similar erection benefits: watermelon and pomegranate juice are the best choices.
Watermelon is high in L-citruline which is precursor of NO booster L-argine (1). And pomegranates contain potent flavonoids, tannins and polyphenols which protects and enhances nitric oxide (2).
Like a beetroot juice, pomegranate consumption is also shown to lower blood pressure (3) and might reduce risk of cardiovascular disease (4, 5, 6)
If you don’t have a juicer and find it too hard to make beetroot juice daily, there is Beet it shots to provide the nitrate benefits. Many studies have actually used “Beet it” shots in their studies (For example this study used it).
Another beetroot alternative I have used a lot is CocoCardio. It’s made from 100% non-alkalized flavonoid-rich cacao and for synergistic benefits they added concentrated beetroot extract and hibiscus tea extract to it. I use this in smoothies, and for me personally its one of the best add-ons to coffee and teas.
CocoCardio is great to have around for performance enhancing. The downside is that it’s not great tasting without sweetener, but personally, I don’t mind the bitter taste. CocoCardio is one my favorite things to add to a pre-workout coffee on the morning workouts when I don’t have time to juice beets.
Beetroot juice benefits conclusion
Beetroot juice is a great ergogenic aid which is backed by a lot of clinical studies. I prefer freshly juiced beets made by myself, and things like ready-made juice shots or CocoCardio powder. I’d try to get it in at least 2 hours before the “act”, be it the indoor Olympics (aka sex) or running or intense workout with barbell and dumbells.
Here was the common questions about beetroot and beetroot juicing. If you have any other questions, comment them to this article and I might add it to list.